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View of the Great Nile in Aswan
20 November, 20233 minute read

Life on board a river boat - what is it really like?

When you think of a river cruise – what immediately springs to mind? Is it that the cabins and spaces on board will be too small and not comfortable? That perhaps you won’t have much free time to relax or that the food might be a bit hit-and-miss? Or maybe that there isn’t enough to see or do, or that you might feel bored on a river cruise tour.

Titan riverboat cruises couldn’t be further from the above. Our river cruise fans continually tell us how much they enjoy the experience. From breathtaking scenery at every turn to waking up in a new destination every single day, river cruising is for travellers who are looking for a holiday that has it all.

For foodies, there is freshly prepared local cuisine (and free-flowing drinks on our all-inclusive cruises). For culture and history lovers, there are a wealth of fascinating destinations to explore. For those looking to unwind, sit on the sundeck with a good book or wander at leisure when off the ship.

But while we can tell you all the wonderful experiences you can have on a river cruise, you can read first-hand experiences from some of the Titan team, who’ve travelled on our Nile and Mississippi cruises. Read on to find out what they really think about river cruising…

What surprised you most about river cruising?

I was surprised by how exciting it all was. In comparison to adventurous worldwide tours, river cruising is sometimes labelled as a little tame. But I found the whole experience so much fun, from stepping into my very own cabin for the first time to seeing the riverbanks pass me by on deck. Plus, each day brought a new adventure with fresh anticipation every day as we approached the next destination.

American Queen Riverboat by a bridge

Is a river cruise good for seeing different destinations?

Yes, definitely! I found river cruising a fantastic way to explore all the cities and towns we visited. Even though the touring is a significant part of river cruising, the excursions and guided tours are done at a leisurely pace and I didn’t feel rushed in any way. And once I got back on board the ship, I always felt relaxed and at peace. And it became a little ritual of mine to go up to the sun deck with a cocktail and to watch the stunning scenery pass by as the sun set.

The guides were so knowledgeable and passionate about the places we visited and were always happy to answer questions. This made the excursions so much more than just a case of ticking off items from a list and getting back on the coach, but also about hearing of the background and the connection each sight had to the city’s history.

Dahabiya on the Nile River going to Aswan

Do the ships feel crowded?

No, absolutely not. There was always space in the main lounge or up on deck to sit and have a drink, read a book and just relax. The only time we went to our cabins was to change or sleep! In the evenings, in the restaurant there was still room to move around and choose from various tables, too. And always lots of space up on deck with plenty of chairs always available.

If you prefer a smaller ship, try our Nile cruise aboard a traditional dahabiya – with space for just 14 guests, it has a friendly, intimate feel.

Couple outside on the deck of the American Queen ship

Is there entertainment on river cruises?

In the evening, there was always some sort of entertainment on the river cruise. I loved the live music, which really gave us an authentic feel to the destination – this part of America is all about blues, jazz and country, and it was fantastic to embrace that. The dancefloor was always heaving, so it was great to see people really getting in the swing of music!

Some river cruises have more entertainment options than others. Our travel advisors can recommend one that suits you – just give them a call and they’ll be happy to chat through the options.

Entertainment onboard the American Queen

What's the food like on board?

Food is something I love but I often dread dinner time when travelling, I have food allergies and this can prove tricky with set menus, but not on board our river cruise ships. I was blown away by the attention to detail and the subtly with which my allergies were handled.

Every meal was a feast of the highest standard. Not only did the food taste amazing, but it was beautifully presented like a work of art. Nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff in the restaurant, the wine flowed a plenty.

On board the American Queen, great food and a great atmosphere is all part of your cruise. There are many choices to make, from places to eat to the kind of food you’re after. Ashore, you’ll likely be tempted some more, with grits, ribs, jambalaya, catfish and New Orleans’ beignets!

Food buffet onboard the American Queen

Do you have to follow a strict timetable?

I think the thing to remember about a river cruise is that you can be as active or as lazy as you like. You can do the excursions, you can stay on the ship, or you can go off and do your own thing (or a mix of all three!).

The ship might be following a set route down the river, but what you do on shore is completely up to you – you can make the holiday exactly what you want. I found it was a really easy way to travel around without the faff of lugging my suitcase between hotels or constantly packing and unpacking.

Pool on deck at sunset onboard the MS Nile Plaza

Find out more about our collection of river cruises.


Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.

Ting | About the author

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